Howard and Kylie are members of the Roughin' It Challenge team at Launch Housing. During planning for the Roughin' It Challenge, they undertook the challenge for 24 hours as a test run.
Here's the story of my trial run of the challenge. It certainly was rough and a challenge but I'm glad l did it. It reconfirmed to me why our work is so important. No one should have to live without the basics. Everyone deserves a home.
7pm – My challenge begins.. with Game Changer 1
And I am hopelessly unprepared. I have no idea where I’ll sleep, not packed a bag and as for food…?
9.30pm - I can’t avoid the issue of food anymore.
I walk to the supermarket and wander around. Utterly unplanned, I grab an apple, some bread, ham and some beans. At least I can have beans on toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. I’ll worry about dinner later. The beans situation is annoying. I can buy 3 big no- brand cans for $2 but there’s no way I want to carry them around in a bag. So I go for the expensive small tin for $1. I also invest 70 cents on some cheap paracetamol for my bad back. So, all up that $7. With a 7-11 coffee tomorrow, that leaves me $2 for dinner.
My wife later researches my options. A sausage roll in 7-11 is $2.50. No good. Maccas has a cheap burger for $2 so that’s exciting!
11pm - I start Game Changer 2.
But I won’t give any spoilers away here. I will tell you it was an eye opener.
11.45 - Try sleeping in the car. 11.46 - Nope. Just…nope.
Hit the garage. A lot better. It’s still hot and airless after the hot day, but at least I can lie flat.
Rain starts. I wake a dozen times as the floor was hard and the rain on the tin roof harder. There were times in the night I felt strangely connected to the city around me. Maybe it was the Lunar new year fireworks I could hear. Dunno.
6am - I’ve got some sleep.
Not too bad. Feel disorientated from the usual routine.
7am - Breakfast routine
I do the kids pack lunches. Wish I could have a carrot! I make breakfast but it doesn’t exactly start my morning with a bang.
I have a shower. Ah bugger: I forgot to pack a towel in my bag.
8.45 - I walk down to 7-11 to get a coffee.
I have four meetings before 11.30 including 90 minutes with my boss…I’m thinking real hard about money and the price of things.
12pm - Ham sandwich.
What it lacks in excitement it makes up for by its sheer Britishness (I’m English by the way so read everything with an accent from here).
Afternoon is dominated by lock-down news and back to 2020 vibes.
5pm - I walk down to MacDonald’s.
People must be panicking to get out of the city as the queue is around the block. Or maybe it’s always like this on a Friday? I wait 25 minutes to get my $2 burger. The menu board is a dazzling fantasy of lights showcasing things I can never afford. It takes 60 seconds to eat the burger. I timed it.
7pm – Challenge ends
Melbourne is swimming in snap-lock-down news as COVID resurfaces once more and my 24 hour challenge ends. I’m feeling very lucky. I have a front door I can close to keep the outside world, and money in my pocket to buy a beer and swap ‘same shit different year’ jokes with pals. I’m thinking of the thousands tonight who don’t have the same luck.
Here’s the story of my trial run of the challenge.
It certainly was rough and a challenge but I’m glad I did it. It reconfirmed to me why our work is so important. No one should have to live without the basics. Everyone deserves a home.
12.30pm - Start challenge
Not prepared, decided last minute to do it, it felt very spur of the moment. I have no packed bag and wondering how someone who has 4 coffees a day is going to cope. No caffeine is looming as my biggest challenge.
Went to 7eleven, got a $2 coffee and checked out what l could get for $8. Noted sandwich and a muffin. Thought l could do better for the $8 l had left. Drank my $2 coffee on the way to the supermarket and looked around for food that was reduced in price or readymadethat totaled $8.. No luck, getting really hungry by this point.
Had another idea looming! Bingo. Fish and chips. Got there and forgot it is closed on a Monday. Oh NO, you have got to be kidding me!
Went home, took a photo of my house and felt immensely privileged!
2pm - Working away
Feeling a bit off and non energetic working away. Conscious l still haven’t got food! Getting really tired and grumpy.
3.30pm - I can't get this thought out of my mind
Money and the cost of things is really starting to occupy my mind.
5.30pm - Now, it's all about food.
What and when l’m going to eat now start overtaking my thoughts.
Just stuffed. Still haven’t eaten! I usually exercise now and just don’t have the energy to go for a run! Feel sad, moody, annoyed!
6pm - Hangry!
Really really hungry by now. Decide to go back up to 7eleven to get food. Buy the muffin and sandwich. Experiencing really severe caffeine headaches. Bravely ask the cashier if l can purchase a $1 coffee for $0.50 and was declined. Where is the kindness of strangers? Look aimlessly on the ground for coinage outside in desperation for 50cents to make up the $10 limit. Nothing.
Come home, eat the sandwich really really really slowly over 2 hours to get through the next challenge and savor every last bite.
7pm - Sensory overload
Smell the aromas of my neighbors BBQ. Meat, melting juicy bbq’ed meat. Close my doors to not smell it! Open and shut my fridge and pantry about 20 times just looking and contemplating. Don’t go there.
9pm - Completely exhausted
I lay down on my couch with no pillow or doona. Uncomfortable. Nothing else to do. I can’t sleep.
I try and sleep in my little car in the carport. It’s cold without a doona, seats won’t go back far enough. I can’t do this, it’s more uncomfortable than the couch.
So I go for a walk around the block and check out where l might sleep if l didn't have a home, the options are worse than my couch. Try again to sleep on the couch. After lots of thinking about the challenge, eventually I get a few hours’ sleep. At last!
6am - Wake to caffeine withdrawals
Starving. Eat my muffin, like a sparrow (knowing l still have half a day to get through). Shower, brush my teeth and drink water. Struggling to be honest.
8am - Counting down the minutes
Work for a bit. Counting down the minutes (watch checking every half hour) to the end of the challenge.
12.30pm - Challenge ends! I made it!
First thing l did. Double shot of coffee and then another. Bliss!
I’ve had a lot of time to think about what to eat… it’s eggs, spinach, bacon on toast smothered with worcestershire sauce. It tasted delicious!
1 hour powernap (in my own bed) and wake to someone mowing their lawns during the day. Grrr.
What did I learn?
Whoever said ‘money doesn’t bring you happiness’. I totally disagree!!
A truer statement might be
Money doesn’t buy happiness. Neither does poverty.
Money can buy you comfort, feed you, entertain you, and provide security which makes finding happiness much easier.
Other lessons and tips
- I probably shouldn’t have attempted the challenge knowing l spent the previous weekend in bed with a bug! Make sure you’re feeling healthy.
- I didn’t plan for it. I should have! I would have had a big feast just before it started and planned out the coffees.
- Totally preoccupied mid-way to the end of thoughts of coffee, food, cost of things!
- Coffee and sleep deprivation was the hardest for me, followed by living off $10 a day!
- It was hard, especially doing it alone and not having anyone to complain to!
- Probably not the best idea to do it on a week day.
- There is something in ‘random act of kindness’ from strangers. I needed an act of kindness, a coffee or chocolate bar would have made me so much happier.